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To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face: Libertarian Political Violence and the Origins of the Militia Movement Hardcover – March 3, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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About the Author

A historian of early America, Robert H. Churchill has published numerous articles on the American Revolution and American political violence. He is currently Associate Professor of History at the University of Hartford.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press; 1St Edition edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472116827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472116829
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,440,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With the sole exception of The Right to Bear Arms: The Rise of Americas New Militia, by Jonathan Karl (1995), this is the first book on the constitutional militia movement that is not part of a campaign of demonization by those with a stake in portraying constitutionalists as threats to the established order. Churchill not only does a good job of tracing the movement back to the American Revolution through an almost unbroken line of militia revivals, but also convincingly debunks the critics and shows how their pretended scholarship is weak or disingenuous. It is a book that is long overdue and that deserves to be read by every thinking American. It should also be read by people elsewhere in the world, since it presents a view of political thought that lies at the foundation of most modern republics.

However, this is not the definitive history of the modern phase of the movement. That remains to be written. It is an excellent introduction to such a history, outlining the main elements that deserve further examination. It is an invitation to historians to join him in exploring this part of our history and bringing out the issues that have driven it.

Churchill was one of the debunkers of Michael Bellesiles' anti-firearms twisting of history with fabricated "facts", Arming America, which has been overwhelmingly discredited.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rather than accepting the popular media myth about the militia movement, Robert Churchill actually went out and gathered the facts, following the historical precedent from the beginnings of the American Revolution. Contrary to the media myth, most militia members are not uneducated rural bigots, but in fact are more highly educated than the general population (over half have college degrees), and are middle class Americans from the suburbs and have successful careers.

The constitutional militias actively root out any infiltration by Neo Nazis, Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups, and maintain an overt nondiscrimination policy of membership. The ideals of the constitutional militia members are best reflected by the writings of one of their most influential leaders, Mike Vanderboegh, who is well studied in American History, ethics and legitimate defense of liberty. Mike maintains a blogspot called Sipsey Street Irregulars where he keeps his readers informed of current events and commentary, with an emphasis on current threats to liberty. Mike best describes the militia's view of itself as "sheep dogs;" non-threatening, but willing to protect itself and the flock, self-sufficient and independent, aspiring to the highest ideals of early Americanism.

Professor Churchill also examines the collectivist, extreme left, Neo-Nazi-hate-group type militias, and found that they are actually quite few in number and fizzle out quickly. Nevertheless, these are the types that the Southern Poverty Law Center wants to project as the mainstream of the militia movement, a view that is propagated by the mainstream media, the Department of Homeland Security, and other militarized segments of law enforcement, and is utterly false.
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Professor Churchill's work is a brilliantly written and thoroughly researched history of the militia movement in the United States. It is a must read for anyone interested or concerned with the militia movement or with the right to bear arms from a historical perspective.

It is not an "easy read" and is not intended for someone looking for light reading from a superficial perspective. However, if the reader's interest is in really understanding the subject from a truly researched effort, then this is the book for that reader. Were I teaching current history rather than Systems Engineering, this would be required reading.

C. Thompson Pardoe
Johns Hopkins University
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